At Sean Walsh Memorial Park in Tallaght, Dublin; Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart; Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe; and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
In the Dáil.
The recent destruction of wetlands at Sean Walsh Memorial Park in Tallaght, Dublin, following de-silting works at the park by South Dublin County Council, the was raised by Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart and Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe with Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Ms Madigan confirmed to the two TDs that her department will be carrying out an investigation into the matter and vowed she “won’t leave a stone unturned” during that inquiry.
South Dublin County Council released a statement on the matter on Monday.
Ms Madigan’s confirmation of an inquiry follows Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin yesterday demanding in inquiry into the matter.
During his contribution, Mr Crowe said the wetlands was a “vibrant, multi-layered eco-system”.
“It came about by accident rather than design. There was a murder in the area, the guards needed to dredge the area…silt came out of the pond and it was put on grassland. And this, over a couple of years, the eco-system came about.”
He also said:
“It was described by one person, the vandalism, the environmental vandalism that actually happened, it was like a punch in the gut and it not only demotivates people, it demoralises people, not only those environmentalists, but also volunteers who help in the park, but also park staff.
“We got it wrong, clearly. It regenerated over the years, it was bursting with life, nude spats and even the critically endangered European eel.
“…you say, minister, that there’s going to be an inquiry, I think that’s something positive. I think it was an issue of miscommunication rather than a malicious decision. Nevertheless, the environmental destruction is unacceptable, it can’t happen again in any part of the country and serious lessons need to be learned from this disaster.”
Mr Crowe went on to ask Minister Madigan to outline how long the investigation will take place, when it will finish and if her department will liaise with local representatives.
During her response, Ms Madigan said:
“My department…is investigating this matter and we have been in touch with the Heritage Officer of South Dublin County Council, indeed the Chief Executive and the director of Environmental Services also. And we have requested a report on the matter from them.
“Officers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, of my department, are arranging a visit this coming week, together with the Heritage Officer and following on from that site visit, I expect to receive a report from them, for review.
“I would caution, however, that it shouldn’t be prejudicial or premature in establishing facts until we see that report in detail and we will then take any further action as a result of those findings as we see fit.”
Mr Lahart told Ms Madigan:
“The question you must ask of the local authority is: how did communication breakdown to such an extent that one arm of the local authority didn’t know what the other arm of the local authority has done, and has essentially vandalised a natural habitat.
“That’s the first point, the second point is this: Does a local authority require a licence from the EPA to dump silt and soil in particular spots. That’s the second point.
“The third point I want to make is this. This happens widely in Ireland. I have queries, as well from constituents at the moment, in relation to the provision of play spaces in Dodder Valley – that their concerns in relation to the biodiversity impact of one of those play spaces wasn’t taken seriously by the local authority in terms of the part 8 submission.
“And we look at the ESB. The apparent jewel in the crown of semi-state bodies has not responded publicly in any meaningful way to their pollution of the River Dodder. A documentary on Prime Time covered that.
“So your response is outlining what your responsibility is as minister, but you have serious questions to ask the local authority as to how this came to happen.”
During her response, Ms Madigan said:
“I will give you the full report when I have it to hand.”
Previously: All A Blur
“Like The Surface Of The Moon”